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Department of Design, Housing & Merchandising: Subject Headings


Most topics can be expressed in multiple different ways. If you are researching a topic like the history of clothing, you might find one author writing about it as "fashion history," while another uses "history of clothing" and another uses "design through the ages."

Many library catalogs and databases use subject headings to unify these variations in vocabulary. Whatever language the individual author used, the work will be indexed in a library database using the subject heading for that topic. You can use subject headings to get ideas for how to search for your topic or to make sure that you're finding everything relevant, even if the authors used different language for the topic than you did.

In most databases, subject headings are listed and defined under links called "headings" or "thesaurus." When you view the record for a book or article, you can see the subject headings assigned to it.

Some recommended subject headings for DHM topics follow.

Searching by Subject Heading

Click "Advanced Search" to the right of the library's main search box.

Set your search field to "Subject" and search type to "is (exact)." Optionally, select only books and media or only journals; otherwise, your search will include all types of materials. Type in the subject heading.



Click the title of a result to view its full record. You'll see a list of all the subject headings assigned to this item. You can follow them to locate other materials with the same subject headings.

Clothing and Textiles

Clothing and dress

  • Clothing and dress--Dictionaries
  • Clothing and dress--History
  • Clothing and dress--Social Aspects
  • Clothing and dress--Technological innovations
  • Clothing and dress in art 
  • Fashion in art--Exhibitions
  • Narrower term:  Silk clothing
  • Narrower term: Children's clothing


  • Costume--History
  • Children--Costume


  • Fashion--Biography
  • Fashion designers
  • Fashion design


  • Textile Industry
  • Textile fibers


  • Names of specific fibers, or fiber types, such as Animal, Celulosic, etc.

Interior Design

Interior design - Focuses more on the artistic and theoretical aspects

Interior decoration - Focuses more on the more "applied" or "practical" aspects, such as "color in interior decoration," "furnishings," "antiques in interior decoration," and so on.

Narrower Terms:

  • Antiques in interior decoration
  • Church decoration and ornament
  • Color in architecture
  • Color in interior decoration
  • Coverlets
  • Drapery in interior decoration
  • Floor coverings
  • Furnishings
  • House furnishings industry and trade
  • House plants in interior decoration
  • Industrial equipment in interior decoration
  • Interior landscaping
  • Library decoration
  • Lighting, Architectural and decorative
  • Mural painting and decoration

Sustainable Design

  • Sustainable design
  • Interior decoration--environmental aspects
  • Ecological houses
  • Sustainable architecture